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My neighbour, the criminal: how memories of the 1991–1995 conflict in Croatia affect attitudes towards the Serb minority

Nations and Nationalism

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This paper investigates how Croats view the minority Serb population in Croatia. It is based on focus groups, dyads and interviews conducted in Croatia in 2014 and 2015. Serbs constitute the ‘other’ to Croatian identity, which is defined primarily through language and religion. The analysis finds that the predominant war narrative related to the 1991–1995 conflict, one of defence against a larger Serbian aggressor, influences both of these notions of identity, as well as perceptions of the Serb minority in the state. Participants displayed contradictory attitudes in a discourse that featured many key facets of the war narrative. Most respondents agreed that Serbs should be equal members of Croatian society, but they also did not believe Cyrillic signs should be put up in Vukovar. The introduction of bilingual signs both reduced trust in government institutions and was interpreted as a continued threat against the Croatian people and state.